Sunday, February 21, 2016

Religious Liberty

And Marco Rubio, obviously unschooled in the proper obfuscatory rhetoric, eschews the flowery prose and just blurts out what they really believe. He says on his website:
“Religious liberty is not simply the right to believe anything you want.”
Actually, that’s exactly what it is.
 As Frederick Clarkson explained in this piece, Thomas Jefferson considered his involvement in the drafting of that Virginia statute as important as his authorship of the Declaration of Independence. It was equally revolutionary: It removed the Anglican church as the official church of the state of Virginia and asserted that people were free to believe in any church, or no church, and it “shall in no wise diminish, enlarge, or affect their civil capacities.” It is considered the basis for the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause, which was ratified four years after this was passed.
The Establishment Clause was a radical embrace of the Enlightenment; it was controversial then and it’s controversial now. Jefferson set out to explain his thinking on the matter. He wrote very explicitly that his intention was that the law held “within the mantle of its protection, the Jew and the Gentile, the Christian and Mohametan, the Hindoo and Infidel of every denomination.” And it will come as a surprise to the Christian Right who have been bamboozled by charlatans into believing otherwise, but Jefferson made it clear that the majority voted against adding any references to Christianity.
Not that this has stopped right wing hucksters like pseudo-historian David Barton, who is the CEO of one of Ted Cruz’s Super-PACs, and the looney Glenn Beck from rewriting this history out of whole cloth. It is one of the great cons in American life. Not only wasn’t the U.S. founded as a Christian nation; the founders discussed the subject at great length over many years and made it clear that it was not. What they did say was that individuals would be free to believe, or not believe, anything they want. That secular Enlightenment value is what Religious Freedom Day celebrates.
But as is their wont, the right wing has cleverly decided to use a postmodern approach to reinterpret this constitutional right as a license to impose their own beliefs on others. Just as the Second Amendment is now used to inhibit the exercise of the First Amendment, radical right-wing legal strategists have devised a plan to use the First Amendment to impose their religious beliefs on their fellow Americans. They cleverly call it a crusade for “religious liberty” when it is, in fact, an attempt to deny individuals the right to live their lives free from religious coercion.
Frederick Clarkson is the author of a new comprehensive report on this movement, called “When Exemption is the Rule: The Religious Freedom Strategy of the Christian Right.” Even those who follow this issue must be surprised at the scope of their efforts. In a nutshell, Clarkson reports that the right has created a number of new institutions and initiatives to advance the redefinition of the meaning of religious freedom. There are tens of millions of dollars from various right wing organizations flowing into these institutions to influence legal, political and cultural change. For instance:
The Becket Fund, which has litigated landmark Supreme Court cases like Hobby Lobby and Hosanna-Tabor, grew 86 percent in just four years, from FY2009 to FY2012. The national legal network Alliance Defending Freedom increased its annual revenues by $5 million during the same period (a 21% increase) while also expanding its effort to seek influential legal precedents in international courts.
In an important mainstreaming move, the conservative John Templeton Foundation funneled $1.6 million through the Becket Fund to establish a religious liberty clinic at Stanford University Law School. It opened in January 2013.
The Supreme Court’s 2014 Hobby Lobby ruling was the first high-level, national recognition of this new definition of religious freedom, which is essentially the recognition of an employer’s right to discriminate. (It allowed companies to claim a religious exemption from the Obamacare mandate that requires employers to offer contraception coverage in health insurance plans.) Essentially the court held that the religious beliefs of an employer supersedes the religious beliefs and personal conscience of individuals who work for them.

1 comment:

Yellow Dog said...

To Anonymous: Your religious liberty ends where mine begins. No, you do not have the right to exercise your religion in every aspect of your life unless you live in a cave all by yourself and never leave it.

Next time, leave a name.